Options abound!

Options abound!

Whether you call them “flavored,” “scented,” “crafted,” or just plain “modified,” these teas offer you something extra. For almost as long as man has been drinking tea, he has been adding that additional touch. Some of these have come about by accident, but many are the result of dedicated tea professionals trying different combinations to entice your tastebuds.

Teas with Flavors Added

Fruits, herbs, and spices are all commonly-used flavorings. Lemon is a popular fruit to add to tea, whether hot or cold. Teas that are “pre-lemoned” are readily available, too. Some use lemon juice and others contain zest (finely grated rind). Apples, blueberries, cranberries, apricots, cherries, peaches, oranges, coconut, guavas, lichees, raspberries, and blackcurrants are just some of the other fruits used. Some tea vendors use oils with these flavorings in them while other vendors use actual pieces of fruits. As for herbs and spices, there’s mint, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, vanilla, and cloves, to name a few. Let’s not forget caramel and chocolate, too!

Teas with Scents Added

Scented teas are usually florals. Jasmine teas have been around for centuries and are usually green teas. Lavender is also quite popular, both as a tisane and added to teas. French Blend contains both. Then, there is the smoky flavoring of Lapsang Souchong that comes from how the tea leaves are dried. Oil of bergamot is the secret to the scent of Earl Grey teas. While it comes from a fruit (bergamot is a type of citrus), it is so aromatic that it is more of a scent than a flavoring. Which reminds me that since taste and smell are so closely aligned, it hardly makes sense to divide flavored from scented teas.

Crafted Teas

The kind of teas I’ve usually seen in this category are blooming teas. Nimble-fingered and well-trained tea workers take tea leaves and “sew” them together with flower petals into a ball or mushroom shape. These are show teas that are best steeped in glass teapots so you can watch the changing display. White, green, and even oolong teas are used, and jasmine, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, lavender, osmanthus, and lily are some of the flowers used.

Modified Teas

In a broad sense, all of the above count as modified teas. Come to think of it, “modified” can apply to all teas, since they are modified by being harvested, withered, dried, oxidized, fermented, steamed, baked, pressed into cakes, etc. In the narrower sense, though, “modified” usually refers to teas that are compressed, ground, or made into extract granules. Pu-erhs are certainly in this category, since the majority of them are pressed into large cakes, tuo-chas (small cakes that look like tiny bird nests), etc. (loose pu-erhs are becoming more popular, however, since they can be bought by the pouch or tin in smaller quantities than those large cakes). Then, there’s matcha which is ground to a fine powder. And don’t forget the abundance of bottled teas.

Are your eyeballs spinning yet? Sorry, but the world of tea is rife with complexity. Just have a nice cuppa tea and maybe a bit of fresh fruit to get your senses straight again!

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